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Scattered thoughts on the Red Sox draft class

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It seems like a good class.

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HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: JUN 17 Eastlake at San Marcos Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The draft is all set, with the Red Sox having potentially added 20 players to the organization. We have write ups on all 20 players Boston selected after the last few days, to which you find links in the draft tracker here. That page will also be pinned below the top of the front page of the site for the next few weeks as well as signing bonus numbers come in. With the draft in the books, and a day to sleep on it, let’s go through a quick scattered thoughts on the class.

  • I’ll start by extending a thank you to everyone following along with the coverage. I’m proud of what we were able to do this year and the traffic numbers for the last few days blew me away. It’s a very tiring three days around here, but it’s also a lot of fun and the conversation in the comments is always much appreciated. My favorite part of covering baseball is following players’ trajectories from the draft to the majors, and this is the start of that.
  • As for this class specifically, I’m impressed with what the Red Sox scouting department was able to do here. I thought they grabbed a couple of really interesting, high-ceiling players at the top, and were able to fill out the rest of the class with much more talent than I would have expected. With the obvious caveat that the draft is a crapshoot and all the other sayings you hear when people talk about the MLB Draft, this feels like a strong B+/A- kind of class to me.
  • I am, however, very curious about how the money is going to play out here. I was thinking Mayer might take a fairly significantly overslot bonus, and thought the same might be true of Fabian. However, they didn’t really grab the number of Day Two college seniors that I expected, selecting only one. Teams just don’t let top 10 picks go unsigned anymore, so I would assume the Red Sox have a plan on how to spread the money around. It’s just surprising to me, and I am interested to see specifically how the financials play out here.
Boston Red Sox v. Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images
  • If you were on the ol’ Twitter machine, you may have seen a few teams talking about the number of pitchers they took, including the Angels grabbing arms with all 20 of their picks. I saw some theories that the lack of wooden bat leagues last summer due to COVID made the hitters in the class more risky because many have only been seen with metal bats. I bring that up because the Red Sox went in the other direction, grabbing 12 position players and eight pitchers, and grabbing position players with five of their first six picks. The wood/metal bat thing is interesting to me, but I do always like the idea of zigging when everyone else zags, and specifically so here with the Red Sox given how much better they are traditionally at developing bats.
  • With the position players, it seems like there was a little bit of a focus on contact, though it may just be because of some preconceived notions from me. It had seemed in recent years that the Red Sox have been grabbing a lot of high-power bats with questionable hit tools, but there was a lot of contact here. It wasn’t all focused on contact, to be fair, but as someone who prefers those types of hitters to the all-or-nothing ones, just in terms of watching, I’m for it.
  • As for the pitchers, there was a little bit of a throwback to the Dombrowski era with a lot of righties who profile more as relief arms. In fact, all of the pitchers they selected in this class threw from the right side. Now, a big part of the reason that all of them profile as relievers is that only one is from high school (more on him in a second) and the college arms were all taken later in the draft. They don’t fall this far if there are no questions. But I do like the class of pitchers, even if the ceiling isn’t quite as high.
  • Now, we should talk about some specific players, and it seems only natural to start at the top with Marcelo Mayer. We’ve covered him a bunch already so there isn’t too much more to say, but I would like to reiterate how much I love this pick. I know how many people wanted them to grab a pitcher, and I didn’t have Jack Leiter very far behind Mayer in my personal top two, but it’s just so rare for the Red Sox to be in a position to take a guy like Mayer. He’s relatively safe for a high schooler, having played in big-time showcases with good defense and contact skills to set a floor, and he also has a big ceiling. Finding up-the-middle players who check all those boxes is not easy, and you have to jump when you get the chance.
  • I talked above about the contact players taken in this class, but Fabian is the exception there. And while I generally don’t love the kind of profile here, I’m very intrigued by Fabian. He’s a guy who was connected to the team for their first selection way back in January and February, which speaks to the upside. And unlike some other big-power, big-whiff profiles, Fabian actually brings some defensive upside in center field. There’s a decent chance he can stick there, which makes his contact issues less concerning. And it’s worth mentioning Fabian made an adjustment last spring to lower his leg kick with two strikes, and it resulted in more contact. If the Red Sox can keep that trend going in the pros and get him to tap into his power regularly, this could be a relative steal in the second round.
  • Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz appears to be the guy being hyped up by the team with the dust settling. It’s always a little scary to buy too much into intel that is clearly coming from the team, but he is an exciting pitcher and the aforementioned high school arm. He has a lot of filling out to do — he’s listed at 6’4 an only 160 pounds — and he’s already getting the fastball up to 94. (And those velocities didn’t just come from the Red Sox.) He’s extremely raw and there’s a lot of lead time to him actually even making the upper minors, but as the only early-round pitcher taken this year, he’s obviously a guy to watch.
  • Nathan Hickey may have been my favorite pick of this entire class relative to the round in which they were taken. Fabian’s teammate at Florida, Hickey’s offensive profile is exciting. There’s legitimate raw power here, but he also makes a ton of contact and walked more than he struck out in 2021 with the Gators. He’s a total steal if he can stick behind the plate, but even if he has to move to a corner, the bat has the potential to play if he can find an adjustment to consistently get to the high heat.
  • Niko Kavadas is the top Day Three pick who is likely to sign. That’s not a huge surprise because the 11th round is usually for players like that. He does not fit the contact mold mentioned above, but instead brings some of the top raw power in the entire MLB draft class this year. His entire future rests on him basically maxing out his potential at the plate, but if he does he could be a quick mover and an exciting hitter to watch against minor-league pitching.
  • In terms of Day Three, Phillip Sikes was my favorite pick. That’s largely due to preference, as he’s a center fielder who can run and hit line drives all over the field. My favorite kind of player.
  • Payton Green was Day Three’s most talented player, but the shortstop is almost certainly going to not sign and go to NC State. I’d be shocked if he was in the organization, but I’ll gladly eat crow if that does happen.
  • I’m most curious to see what happens with 20th round pick Josh Hood. He hasn’t played since 2019, but he was great that season. He’s also heading to NC State this year, though as a transfer rather than as a prep player, and I’m curious if the Red Sox will be able to talk him out of it.
  • The Red Sox only have one FCL team, which is presumably where all of these guys will head to start their pro careers since Lowell isn’t an option anymore. There’s only so much playing time to go around there, and they already have plenty of guys looking for playing time, so how they juggle the at bats and innings there is going to be fascinating. My guess is that we won’t see much of any of the 2021 draftees as they work out more with the coaches than play in games, but that’s just speculation on my part.